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OPINION EDITORIAL HALF A CHOICE IS NO CHOICE AT ALL EDITORIAL Feb. 26 marked the unofficial launch of the biennial campaign for prospective Sarasota County commissioners. And if most of the announced candidates are any indication, this election could be given the appellation "Hobson's Choice 2014." We previously have used this forum to bemoan the paucity of qualified civic-minded citizens offering themselves to the people as candidates for elected office, running out of a sense of duty and altruistic concern for their fellow citizens. Instead, it seems too many run for office to accomplish some sort of hidden agenda or, worse, to accomplish the hidden agenda of some moneyed special interest that is trying to get the candidate elected. Half of the four announced candidates argu- ably could fall into the latter group. In fact, given their backgrounds and that of their principal advocates, it is difficult to imagine two finer prospective county commissioners … if you are a land developer. A third candidate is what might charitably be termed an "unknown quantity," having as a principal qualification an almost unmatched persistence in running for public office, and losing. Apparently, he believes that if he runs often enough, eventually voters will give in and elect him to something. Only one of the four announced candidates appears to be relatively free of the influence of special interests. Given Lourdes Ramirez' vocal opposition to County Commission efforts to gut the long-term 2050 Plan, it is difficult to believe that the developers who OPINION

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